HB 1510 was brought up on the Senate floor just a day before the General bill deadline. The bill threw a wrench in the Senators smooth morning as debate began on gestational viability and the potential for stricter abortion laws in the state.
The bill would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, with only few life-threatening exceptions.
Most of the questions intercepted by Sen. Fillingane, who defended the bill, pointed back to whether a baby is viable outside of the womb at 15 weeks, and if not then why would a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy be taken away. Typical viability, at it’s earliest, is close to 23 weeks, according the the Mississippi State Department of Health.
Unusual for this type of legislation, it does not include an exception for rape or incest. Sen. Simmons attempted to offer an amendment to the bill that would make an exception to those unfortunate scenarios.
“I personally believe these decisions should be made between women, their families, and doctors. But, legislators are trying to make these decisions. I think we’ll be supporting women in Mississippi by adding this amendment,” said Sen. D. Simmons.
The amendment was quickly put down by Sen. Fillingane who said current law that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks and does not include any language dealing with incest or rape. The amendment did not pass by a vote of 16y-33N.
The Senate was voting on a strike all version of the bill which takes out the House language that would apply criminal charges to those who perform after 15 week abortions, and kept language that still applies civil penalties.
Sen. Dawkins attempted to offer four amendments to the bill that would offer financial assistance to mothers who considered an abortion at 12-15 weeks but then did not terminate the pregnancy. However, after the first two amendments were deemed not germane to the bill, Dawkins did not offer the other two.
“I believe passing this bill would be the worst thing we could do all day,” said Sen. Dawkins.
Sen. Angela Hill disagreed with her stance, saying this would be the best thing lawmakers could do. She drew on her own experience as a mother saying she often felt her baby move at only 14 weeks, insisting that at that point there is a life worth protecting.
Another amendment offered by Sen. Blackmon would have encompassed Sen. Dawkins original amendment and required a bill be passed and signed by the Governor that would provide this childcare compensation, before HB 1510 could take effect. That amendment was also thrown out, since no such legislation currently exists.
After more questions on viability and whether or not the bill is constitutional, the bill passes 34-14.
Mississippi would lead the nation and be the first state to pass such legislation protecting unborn children if House Bill 1510 becomes law. The bill was held on a procedural motion before returning to the House.
“Mississippians are committed to protecting the lives of unborn children, and this law will be a major step in accomplishing that goal,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child.”